The peak Australian community services body says JobSeeker and related government payments must be “urgently raised and without further delay” following the announcement that an additional $115 million in funding will be committed to cost-of-living support services over the next five years.
Beneficiaries of the funding include emergency relief organisations, financial counselling and other hardship services — but the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) says more needs to be done.
“This revised package does not yet help people on the lowest incomes facing the most severe crisis: people whose incomes are below the tax threshold and pay no income tax,” ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie said.
Watch the latest news and stream for free on 7plus >>
“It also is yet to address our revenue challenge, which remains. Australia is already the ninth lowest taxed amongst 40 OECD countries.
“People receiving income support payments are worst affected by the cost-of-living crisis.
A bank teller refused to help a couple transfer money out of their account. She saved them from being scammed
PM rules out boosting welfare payments to push tax cut changes through parliament
“Right now, we’re hearing about people sleeping in tents, regularly skipping meals and going without essential medication.
“Last week, I spoke to a woman who has saved money to buy camping equipment because she is facing imminent homelessness. She will see no benefit from tax cuts and faces losing her home.
“JobSeeker and related payments must be urgently raised and without further delay. Our unemployment payment is just $54 per day, or $19,000 per year. The government must not leave behind the people already in poverty.
“It is wrong for one of the world’s wealthiest nations to continue condemning people on low incomes to poverty.
“We urge the prime minister to address the missing piece. We must now help people most in need by raising the rate of JobSeeker and related payments to at least $78 a day.”
New funding committed
The new funding will help Australians with electricity bills, rent, fuel and medicine, Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth said.
“We are seeing … more people with complex issues needing support, as many different kinds of Australian families and households grapple with the ongoing challenges of the last five years,” she said.
The money will be added to a government grant program which provides support to eligible Australians by partnering with community organisations.
Some offer free services to improve budgeting and financial literacy skills, others give crisis support and material aid such as food.